Happy feet: A 6-year-old tap dancer
UPDATED: 5:26 p.m. Friday
"That little boy is amazing," said professional dancer Maud Arnold, recalling her first meeting with the boy through one of his tap instructors. "We have to have Luke" as part of the festival, she said.
Luke wasn't originally on the program, and some of the other performers didn't know he would be dancing. Two days before last Friday’s event, he was invited to dance. Arnold said they just wanted him there as an "awesome surprise." She says the audience gave him a five-minute standing ovation.
Luke's mother, Jill Spring, said tap dancing is her son's passion and he taps whenever and wherever he can. She says he's been "blessed with this gift to tap." When she takes him to the grocery store, she can hear him tapping away behind her.
"He'll walk through the door and kick off his shoes, and just start tapping in the living room," she said. "I think he just makes up rhythms in his mind and applies it to his feet."
Spring, of Ashburn, said her son has always had a good sense of the beat. At age 2, he was given a drum set, which he loved, and Spring thinks there's a correlation between drumming and dancing.
The first-grader dances at Studio Bleu Dance Center in Ashburn, and shows up six to seven days a week, according to his instructor Kimberly Rishi. Even if he's not taking a class, his mother said, sometimes he'll just take out a board to dance on and practice.
"He's so unassuming, so humble; he's like a little machine,” Arnold said. “He definitely is a prodigy.”
Rishi said that Luke looks up to the older boys who dance at the studio. "He can tap three to four hours by himself," Rishi said.
Luke also dances with his sisters, Cami, 17, and Lucy, 14. In addition to Luke's festival performance, he and his sisters each placed in the Starpower talent competition in Owings last week. Luke won first place for his solo performance, and the sibling trio won first place, as well.
Noelle Pate, a regional director for the Starpower talent competition, recalled sitting with the judges during Luke's performance. She said that all they kept saying was "Oh my God."
"He's dancing at the caliber of professional dancers, the level of what we see in theater groups," Pate said.
-- Coryn Connelly-Cabreros
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